Home > Culture, Hilarity, Music > It’s Rebecca Black’s Moment and We’re Just Living In It

It’s Rebecca Black’s Moment and We’re Just Living In It

I should feel worse about driving up her page hits even a small amount, but if you didn’t know, Rebecca Black of car-seat-uncertainty and cereal-bowl-loving fame has a new single and video, “My Moment”:

Yeah, just sort of over-scrubbed and mediocre, rather than epically, culture-encapsulatingly bad like the infamous “Friday”. And though the 14-year-old Black remains a comically-awkward performer (check out the initial stirrings of a Carlton-from-The-Fresh-Prince dance at 1:14 and her air-drum solo a few seconds later), only an inveterate ass would blame her for the odious poor taste that underscores her dubious fame. Overall, the image relaunch represented by “My Moment” absolutely reeks of PR polish and corporate doublethink. The image being sold through Black was the image that is always being sold in post-millenial teen culture: glamour and fame is the only end worth contemplating, even if the means can be humiliating or diminishing. When Black examines a newspaper article about her post-“Friday” fame (at 1:09 of the video), she’s positively beaming. Who cares if the article is almost assuredly discussing how horrible and embarrassing the song is; what’s important is that her name and face is in the newspaper! Cool!

Still, I only have so much patience for the mild annoyance expressed by many “Friday” critics at the video’s circulation of the worst teen-centric celebrity-culture tropes. The circulation of those tropes, or rather the ineptness of Ark Music Factory’s attempts to evoke them, was what so many really responded to in that awful song in the first place. What made “Friday” the latest online phenomenon in a litany of similar cultural memes was not merely its badness, but its complete obliviousness to its own badness. Foolishness on its own is funny, but credulous foolishness is downright hilarious. That the song and its video were so astoundingly non-self-aware in a culture largely predicated on an excess of self-awareness, that it seemed an almost serendipitous send-up of the shallow, deluded play-acting of teen culture, was what was resonant about it. Millions watched, mouths agape in shocked laughter, as American capitalist entertainment feasted on the flesh of its own young, believing it was enjoying some roasted chicken. It was tremendously satisfying.

But “My Moment” (“My Zeitgeist”?) is an instructive object lesson in how the capitalist order works to mitigate symbolic threats of subversion to its self-perpetuating bottom-line. As mentioned, the song and video entirely ignore the terms of Black’s fleeting appeal in favour of a rosy, sun-kissed portrayal of celebrity for its own sake. This is the Sarah Palin approach to the implications of criticisms (minus Bible Spice’s titanic persecution complex): either pretend they don’t exist or treat them as if they actually do you credit. It’s also fundamental to the continued functioning and desultory growth of American capitalism in the 21st century: the essential illusion of constant, upward-trending confidence.

Though I used to abide by Michel Foucault’s truism that power inscribes its own resistances, a cultural moment like Rebecca Black’s current one doesn’t quite uphold that. I suppose when an over-eager, under-talented organ of the larger corporate body churns out a product that accidentally, succinctly undermines the larger discursive project, even in a limited way, it’s a distinct and much less easily-controlled phenomenon than the usual inscribed resistances. Denial and/or airbrushing seems to be the only way to go in this case, the only path of escape from the troubling implications buried in “Friday” about the system’s operation. When capitalist power cannot inscribe its resistances, it must instead pretend that they are, in fact, superlatives. And the feast continues.

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Categories: Culture, Hilarity, Music
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